I only watch NASCAR about half the time. I like to watch the start of the races and then take a nap and watch the finish of the races. I had even begun to skip watching the races all together this past summer, because I found them to be sort of boring this year.
This fall, though, boredom has not been an issue. The new championship rules have emotions and tempers stirred up so high that there is as much action on and off track after the races are over as during the races. The fall of 2014 has been a great time to watch NASCAR if you like wrecks and brawls and love to hate NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski.
The last few weeks have been filled with drama as Keselowski has wrecked driver after driver during and after races. He has always been known as an aggressive driver, but he has taken things a little further than normal by wrecking drivers after races are over to show his displeasure with them.
A few weeks a go, Keselowski rammed into Matt Kenseth after the race was over and Kenneth’s safety equipment was removed. Luckily, Kennseth was uninjured but he was so angered by Keselowski’s seemingly careless attitude toward safety that Kennseth retaliated by running after Brad on foot and throwing a few punches his way.
Keselowski was charged $50,000 by NASCAR for his actions on the track after the race. However, Kennseth and the other drivers who retaliated against Keselowski that week received no sanctions from NASCAR. Tempers on and off the track have continued to flair.
On Nov. 2, a track incident between Keselowski and Jeff Gordon led to a flat tire on Gordon’s car that knocked him out of contention for the day. Gordon showed his feelings about the event after the race by forcing his way through crewmembers to “talk” to Keselowski about the event. As Gordon and Keselowski were talking, Kevin Harvick lurked in the background behind Keselowski waiting for his turn to “talk.”
After a few seconds of heated and salty language from Gordon, Harvick apparently decided he wasn’t waiting for his turn to “talk” to Keselowski and snuck up behind him and pushed him toward Gordon and then quickly ran away from the scene as Gordon used that distraction to grab Keselowski. From that moment on, fists started flying from all directions. Keselowski and Gordon both left the incident bloodied (watch the incident here: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:11811965).
Though NASCAR has yet to make a decision about assessing fines over the incident (as of mid-afternoon on Nov. 3), I’m sure whatever sanctions they make will seem minor compared to the money the drivers make in a year. The $50,000 fine Keselowski received a few weeks was significant, but may have not been significant enough because it didn’t stop violence on or off the track.
Then again, maybe NASCAR doesn’t want to stop the fights. I’ve started watching again and I’m sure NASCAR is loving the attention that it is receiving from the mainstream media as folks debate the recent wrecks and brawls.
Maybe NASCAR should take notes from the World Wrestling Federation and just force all drivers with “beefs” against each other to slip into a pair of tights and a wrestling ring after the race to settle matters. It would probably be safer than the violence currently happening that involves high dollar racecars or jeopardizes the safety of crewman, reporters, safety officials, and drivers.
I guess NASCAR has some decisions to make. NASCAR has always said “boys will be boys,” but racing and safety have to stay at the forefront if NASCAR wants to continue to be recognized as a legitimate racing sport. In the mean time as NASCAR searches for the right course to take, most of America will be debating the wrecks and brawls from last week, which in its own way helps promote the sport.
The 2014 NASCAR Championship should be interesting to watch unfold as tempers continue to fly when millions of dollars and a championship are on the line.